Vacuum cleaners are one of the more popular inventions in the household appliance
industry. They make cleaning much easier and much more thorough than merely sweeping
or any other form of cleaning that people once used. They can pick up more dirt
and dust as well as many messes that get dropped on your floor. But vacuum cleaners
were not always as convenient and helpful as we know them to be today.
The first technology that led to the development of vacuum cleaners occurred in Chicago in 1868 by Ives W. McGaffey. His first vacuum-related invention was a manually-powered machine that needed to be cranked in order to operate. It was even more inconvenient because the user needed to turn the crank while still pushing the mechanism along the floor. These models were mainly marketed throughout Chicago and Boston, but much of the inventory burned up in the Chicago fire of 1871. It wasn’t until 1900 when the first electric-powered vacuum cleaner was introduced by Corinne Dufour in Georgia, but there were more improvements to be made.
In 1901, H. Cecil Booth introduced the first powered vacuum cleaner model that used the technology of the vacuum tube. He got the idea for this by placing a white handkerchief on a chair and then placing his mouth over the top of it. He then sucked up with his mouth and realized the amount of dirt that was on the underside of the handkerchief. This gave him the idea for the powered vacuum technology. His first powered vacuum cleaner was powered by oil, but he later created an electric-powered model. Unfortunately, it was so large it had to be carried by horse and carriage and it was normally parked outside of a building while the operator cleaned the inside.
The first vacuum cleaner that resembles the popular models that we know today were created in 1905 by Walter Griffiths. His model, named the “Griffiths Vacuum Apparatus for Removing Dust from Carpets,” was also a manual appliance. It was, however, much smaller and portable which made it easier for one person to operate it alone. The mechanism resembled a bellow that would suck dust into a removable pipe. The pipe would then be cleaned for the next use. It also had differently-shaped attachments so people could reach other areas of their home that needed cleaning.
The next person to make great strides in the vacuum technology was David T. Kenney. He received nine patents between 1903 and 1913 for his work the vacuum industry. He created the Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturer’s Association in 1919 and many of the new developments had to operate under his patents
In 1908, James Spangler was awarded a patent for his vacuum technology that involved a rotating brush coupled with an electric vacuuming apparatus. He sold his idea to the Hoover Harness and Leather Goods Factory, who then made many new improvements and models on the idea. By 1952, they had created the Hoover Constellation – a vacuum cleaner model that hovered above the floor as it cleaned. In fact, some of these models are still found in homes today.
It wasn’t until after World War II that vacuum cleaners became commonplace in the American homes. The western culture was more in need of vacuum cleaners because their homes typically had a large area of carpet that needed to be cleaned. Since the early years, many more exciting improvements have been made. For instance, the Dyson Cyclone was created by James Dyson in 1985. This model, as well as many following models, used no bags. Instead, there was a detachable canister into which the dirt and debris was contained. Clean air is expelled through a series of filters and the canisters can be cleaned when they get full.
Lately, there is also a trend in the vacuum industry for robotic vacuum cleaners. Entering the market in 2002, these small vacuums can set on the floor and roam around freely while sucking up dirt and dust the entire time. Detectors help these robotic vacuums avoid bumping into things. The most popular model of this type of robotic vacuum cleaner is the Roomba, but there are many other versions of this popular model. Since their introduction, over two million units have been sold.
It seems as though there have been as many improvements in the vacuum industry as there can be. However, there is always something new that can improve on existing models and technology. This is how many of the world’s greatest inventions come to be so popular.